Merck Congratulates Guatemala as Fourth Country in Latin America to Achieve WHO Verification of Elimination of River Blindness


September 29, 2016 12:06 pm ET

Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
commends the government of Guatemala on being the fourth country in
Latin America to receive World Health Organization (WHO) verification of
the elimination of river blindness (onchocerciasis). This announcement
comes one year after the international coalition, formed by The Carter
Center, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO and Merck’s
MECTIZAN Donation Program, urged for the final push to eliminate
onchocerciasis from the Americas.

The government of Guatemala worked in partnership with the MECTIZAN
Donation Program, PAHO, WHO and The Carter Center’s Onchocerciasis
Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA), to eliminate onchocerciasis
– one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide – using
MECTIZAN® (ivermectin), donated by Merck. With this
verification, four of the six countries in the Americas historically
at-risk for river blindness have verified elimination of the disease.

“We celebrate this important achievement with the people of Guatemala.
River blindness is a debilitating disease that affects individuals and
their families, as well as the larger health care system and the
economy,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer
of Merck. “Until river blindness is entirely eliminated around the
world, we remain committed to working with our partners in the fight
against this preventable disease.”

For more information, please read the following:

About the MECTIZAN Donation Program

In October 1987, Merck announced it would donate the medication MECTIZAN
to all who need it for as long as necessary until river blindness is
eliminated as a public health problem. The MECTIZAN Donation Program
reaches more than 100 million people annually for river blindness. In
Latin America, since 1989, more than 11 million treatments of donated
MECTIZAN have been delivered by community health workers and
non-governmental organizations. Learn more at

About Merck

For 125 years, Merck has been a global health care leader working to
help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States
and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic
therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and
operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health
solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to
health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.
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Lainie Keller, 908-236-5036

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